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What’s in a name?

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A note from an outside observer to the President of Notre Dame in regard to recent remarks made about freedom of speech:

The sponsors of the football program at Notre Dame have “many laudable goals;” however, I fail to see how the annual performance, at a multi-million dollar cost to the University, is an “appropriate means to these ends.” I fail to see how it in any way conforms to the development of a “scholarly temperament” or nurture a “very distinct intellectual character.” I am not entirely sure what “sacred values” it upholds in comparison to other value-promoting exercises on a college campus, such as enthusiastic student productions of contemporary plays or alternative film festivals. Indeed, it could be argued in many ways that the football program at Notre Dame is clearly “at odds with” or “egregiously contrary to or inconsistent with certain fundamental values of a Catholic University.” Thus I would “invite you to consider” that “wide publicity and prominence given such events,” through monetarily enriching television network contracts, is hardly a way to “instrumentalize” the “collective identity” and “higher meaning” of a Catholic University. I am most concerned about the meaninglessness of the “community and culture” centered on entertainment and other false values it “strives to create.” Therefore, I invite you to consider the witness of one Telemachus, a fourth-century monk who met his death at the hands of an angry crowd because he dared to challenge the legitimacy and sacred value of the gladiatorial games of his era and to abandon the current obsession with what may be faddish artistic experimentations which nonetheless leave much of value in their wake. Perhaps in truth the problem simply lies in the label. The emotion-eliciting appellations given to either “The Vagina Monologues” or a “Queer Film Festival” may just as well get in the way of the artistic integrity of the productions as would calling the football program at Notre Dame “Grunting Men Bashing Each Other About for the Blessed Mother.”

Keith WimmersbergerTully, NYMarch 21